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On December 19, NEMA co-hosted “Warm Up to Life Safety”—an event to raise awareness of the heightened risks of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning during winter. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Acting Chairman Bob Adler and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky were there to share remarks on how important this issue is to consumers. The event took place in the Chicago firehouse of Engine 70. NEMA member First Alert was also on hand to donate 1,000 CO detectors to Chicago residents, some of which were handed out at the event.
Jonathan Stewart – NEMA Manager of Government Relations – had the opportunity to speak at the event as well. He spoke on the importance of state and local laws requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. But he also noted that such laws, by themselves, are not enough to keep residents safe. Awareness of CO emissions sources is necessary in order to minimize risk factors, particularly during cold weather months. Recognition of CO symptoms is also vital since the gas is undetectable by human senses.
Not only was Warm Up to Life Safety a successful event, it was (unfortunately) also very timely. Earlier that morning, 12 residents of an apartment building in Skokie, IL – only 15 minutes from the firehouse where NEMA held its event – were taken to the hospital due to a CO leak in their building. One of the tenants had woken up with nausea and dizziness (common symptoms of CO poisoning) and called 9-1-1. Upon arrival, emergency responders found extremely high concentrations of CO inside the 5-unit building and evacuated the rest of the tenants. The complex did not have carbon monoxide alarms, which would have alerted the residents long before they were in danger.
Local news was on hand to report the Skokie incident and provided coverage of NEMA’s event in conjunction: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=9365962. We hope there won’t be any more instances of carbon monoxide poisoning this winter in Chicago and that its residents will stay warm as they warm up to life safety.